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PSU prof Paul Collins wins nonfiction Oregon Book Award for “Duel with the Devil”
Author: John Kirkland
Posted: March 18, 2014

Paul Collins, an associate professor of English at Portland State University, won a 2014 Oregon Book Award for his nonfiction “Duel with the Devil: The True Story of how Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America’s First Sensational Murder Mystery.”  The Oregon Book Awards ceremony was held March 17 at the Gerding Theater in Portland.

Collins was one of five finalists for the award, titled the Francis Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction. 

Collins teaches creative nonfiction in PSU’s Master of Fine Arts program.  He specializes in history, memoir and unusual antiquarian literature. His eight books have been translated into 11 languages. He is a 2009 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction and has appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday as its “literary detective.”

“Duel with the Devil,” published by Crown Publishing, is the story of a murder of a Quaker woman in December 1799 in Manhattan and the subsequent trial of the accused. Hamilton, Burr and Henry Brockholst Livingston – who Collins calls “the greatest criminal defense team New York had ever seen” – are hired to defend the alleged killer.

Collins’ book takes in politics, public gossip, shady business dealings, minute details of New York life on the eve of the 19th Century and the conflicted relationship of its two most famous characters, Hamilton and Burr. It has received positive reviews from Salon, Kirkus Reviews and major newspapers throughout the United States. 

The Oregon Book Awards and Fellowships is the annual celebration of the state’s most accomplished writers in the genres of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, young readers and graphic literature. The program also produces the Oregon Book Awards Author Tour, which connects writers and readers throughout the state with readings, classroom visits and workshops.

About Portland State University (PSU)

Located in Portland, Oregon, PSU has about 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. PSU’s motto is “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” and we provide every student with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. Our downtown campus exhibits PSU’s commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while sustainability is incorporated into much of the curriculum.